This has been a rough week. I’m talking one of those days when you realize that your life and the lives of others that you love are truly going to change in a major way. This is what this kind of morning is like for a vivid dreamer: you wake up and try to make some sense out of the world that you just left, and how it might attach to the real world. Then you remember what is happening in the real world, and you wonder for a few moments if the real world is a nightmare.
Sandy’s diagnosis was weighing heavy on me this week. I joined a support group on Facebook for myositis caregivers, thinking that would help me process it and prepare, and then the links that they provided for information about polymyositis almost undid me. I felt so overwhelmed with negative possibilities, and really feeling our ages. It’s a good thing that I am in therapy, and I hope that Sandy will go with me on Tuesday.
Then came the bomb. My brother-in-law’s surgery to remove a blockage in his colon revealed extensive, inoperable, incurable cancer on his sub-abdominal wall. That’s why they couldn’t find it in the colonoscopy. It was outside his colon. The surgeon built a bypass in his colon so that he can eat somewhat normally and closed him up. The plan will be for him to do chemo in Wilmington, so that he can still live at the lake.
I love my brother-in-law – I absolutely adore him. He is one of the top beloved people in my life. He is more of a brother to me than my brother ever has been. Sandy feels the same way about him. And my sister – oh my God – those two are inseparable. Best friends.
I haven’t talked to him yet. I’ve talked to my sister several times and she thought I should wait a couple of days. He is still recovering in the hospital and on pain meds. But he should be going home soon and I might see them at the lake next weekend. None of us are people who want visitors in the hospital. Unless someone asks for visitors, we view hospitals as places to just heal.
My sister pulled an Aurora Greenway on the staff there when they asked him if he had suicidal thoughts twenty minutes after being told his prognosis. I mean, there he was, just out of surgery and doped up and had just been told that he is dying. What human would not have suicidal thoughts? He said that he supposed so, and so they said that they had to put someone in his room overnight on a suicide watch. So my sister forbade it, ran them out of there, and spent the night with him. When they came back with their clipboard the next day, she forbade them to ask him the question again. She is Mama Bear. Don’t mess with my sister. (I am the same way.)
I mean, can you imagine having some stranger watching you all night the first time you have been given terrible news? That was clearly a bureaucratic cover-your-ass situation, and I would have been furious if it had been me. What a horrible invasion of privacy.
So, the only real help that I could be to my sister was to call my brother, who neither of us have spoken to in almost two years. I controlled my temper on the call, barely, and I warned him at the beginning of it that I was very angry about the situation. Of course, he told me that he and his wife were not vaccinated, and proceeded to state some concerns that were straight from Tucker Carlson’s bullshit about the vaccine, and how the government might force them to be vaccinated. I have zero tolerance for this kind of garbage thinking and while I tried to not totally lose my shit on him, I explained to him that Sandy and my brother-in-law are on immune-suppressant medicine and while the government would not force them to be vaccinated, he would not be welcome to visit unless he was vaccinated. There was more to the conversation but suffice it to say that by the time I disconnected (almost wrote “hung up”) I was in a rage. There is good reason that my brother and I haven’t communicated.
I am so sick of political thinking about EVERYTHING.
I am tired of human beings being treated like numbers and objects and boxes to be checked off a form.
There is a homeless woman named Sarah that we met about a year ago, who walks through this neighborhood a lot and lives on the porch of her friend’s house. She chooses to sleep outside in a sleeping bag in all seasons. She carries a baritone ukelele and the first time we met her she played us a song. I gave her some money which she tried very hard to refuse, but I insisted on it. We’ve seen her several times since then but this morning I was sitting here on the front porch writing this post and I invited her up for a cup of coffee. She asked for water instead and Sandy was fixing lunch and shared his lunch with her.
Talking with Sarah grounded me. She has a much different perspective on life and I don’t expect that I will ever understand all the things that she has experienced. She is somewhat vague about her life other than it has been traumatic and that she “has problems.” We spent a good two hours talking about some very complex issues and emotions and even though she said that she had sworn that she was going to stop talking to people, I think that we both benefited from the conversation.
In the end, we talked about hope. I am a bit conflicted about hope, having read Buddhist teachings that make me wonder if it is a source of suffering. It’s something that maybe I need to bring up in my therapy session because it seems to me that it will be necessary for everyone’s survival on an individual basis, everyone in the entire world, not just me and my family. At the same time, I fear false hope is stopping the world’s powers-that-be and those who put them in power from doing what is necessary for humanity to survive on this planet. It’s a conundrum, to be sure.